Pittsfield Hospitality Taxes Rebound From Fiscal Year 2021

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city is back to pre-pandemic figures for local receipts in the hospitality industry.

On Wednesday, Finance Director Matthew Kerwood reviewed the city's monetary stance for fiscal 2022 to the finance subcommittee. The review was based on metrics from the beginning of the fiscal year in July to Dec. 31.

He reported that taxes collected for hotels, motels, and meals are where they were before the pandemic.

"What I can tell you on both motel/hotel and meals is that these numbers have to pre-pandemic levels in terms of the amount of revenue that has come in in FY22," Kerwood said.

"So we're back in terms of being able to see these revenues and honestly we were not that far off on meals, we were just about there, and we were substantially behind what we had estimated in hotel/motel tax but that is obviously understandable given the circumstances we find ourselves in."

Halfway through the fiscal year, the city has collected well over half of its expectations for hospitality taxes.

The city expects to raise $710,5000 for hotel/motel receipts and $518,383 has been collected, or 73 percent. For meals tax, the city estimates to collect $751,100 and has taken in $458,950, or 61.1 percent.

This is an improvement from last year, when the city only received around 50 percent of estimated taxes for hotels/motels and meals in the third quarter. Hotel/motel tax collections came in at $397,975 and meals tax at $490,007.

According to Kerwood, at the end of fiscal year 2021 hotel/motel taxes were lacking and meals were almost at the estimated rate.

The city has also collected a large amount of its estimated marijuana tax, bringing in $422,562, or 85 percent, of the estimated $496,925.  

As approved by the council, 50 percent of cannabis funds go to the general fund, 25 percent to the general stabilization account, and 25 percent goes to the newly established public works stabilization account.

The general stabilization account is at about $4,798,253 with about $211,281 being marijuana revenue and the public works stabilization account is around $551,603 with the same amount of marijuana revenue.

About $4,852,083 of the total estimated local receipts revenue of $12,545,725 has been received.

The city's commitment, or the amount of taxes it anticipates to raise through the levy, is $81,929,716. By the end of 2021, $39,214, 806 was raised, or 47.9 percent.  

Some $12,734,756 is expected to be raised through personal property taxes and the city has collected $5,669,327, or 44.5 percent, so far.

Third quarter payments for taxes are due on Feb. 1.

In November, the City Council approved a residential tax rate of $18.56 per $1,000 of valuation and a commercial, industrial, and personal property tax rate of $39.90. From the previous year, the rate dropped by almost a dollar but average homeowners saw their taxes increase by about $200, or a 5 percent increase, because of rising property values.

Kerwood also pointed to a number of expense accounts to watch, which included overtime for Pittsfield fire and police departments.

The Fire Department's original appropriation of $450,00 was adjusted to $800,000 and $435,130 was spent or 54.4 percent. He said this is driven by staffing shortages and traditional things like vacation and sick time.

The Police Department's scheduled overtime has amounted to $621,892 out of $1,275,000, which represents 48.8 percent.

The expense account for unemployment insurance is budgeted at $150,000 and has only gone down by $16,745, or 11.2 percent. This metric is vastly different from last year's when the city was a victim of unemployment fraud as a result of pandemic claims.

In the third quarter of the fiscal 2021, $644,578 was spent on the original $150,000 budget.

Kerwood said the city has been using the credits that were identified for the fraud claim.

"The human resources department identified that fraud, reported it back to the state, and then they will ultimately credit us the amount on that claim," he explained. "We have been surviving on those credits, both towards the end of the last fiscal year and this fiscal year."

Tags: fiscal 2022,   hospitality taxes,   meals tax,   rooms taxes,   

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BEAT: Conserving Flowers and their Pollinators

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Joan Edwards will speak at the May Pittsfield Green Drinks event on Tuesday, May 17th at 6:00 PM and give a slideshow presentation about the rapidly decreasing biodiversity that is taking place globally, known as the sixth extinction. 
She will specifically focus on flowers and their insect visitors. 
This sixth extinction is primarily driven by human actions, from habitat loss to climate change. The impacts of biodiversity loss are far-reaching, resulting in biological communities that are less resilient and with diminished ecosystems services. As part of the discussion, Joan will explore the impact of biodiversity loss in the pollinator-flower world and examine how the surprising dynamics of flower-pollinator networks can help to conserve both flowers and their pollinators.
Joan Edwards is a botanist interested in understanding the biomechanics and adaptive significance of ultra-fast plant movements—plant actions that are so quick they occur in milliseconds. Using high-speed video (up to 100,000 fps), she studies the evolutionary significance and biomechanics of fast movements, including the trebuchet catapults of bunchberry dogwood, the vortex rings of Sphagnum moss, the splash cups of liverworts, and the "poppers" of wood sorrel. Her early fieldwork was on the impact of moose on plants in the boreal forests of Isle Royale National Park. 
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